At first it was raw, sharp, and unabated.
Now it is numb and full and deep.
I have felt like isolating lately. I realize my phone never rings anymore. I can’t think of receiving a single phone call after Audrey sleeps in months maybe- unless I previously “scheduled” it with a friend. I mention this to the widows last night at my second dinner- “They all think you’re better,” one woman answers. I don’t know if I agree with this, but I know that life is just full for people at this age. Still, I found myself telling the counselor last week, “I don’t know why, I just keep thinking of the word “sacrifice,” like I know people have pitched in to help me, but has anyone “sacrificed” anything? Has anyone done anything that was even inconvenient for them?” Who knows, maybe they have. On the opposite side, I am tired of feeling so needy and burdensome. Oddly enough, while I was having this thought initially, “Has anyone sacrificed for me in my suffering?” in the waiting area of the counselor’s office, a large painting of a beaten Christ carrying the cross looked back at me.
It’s too painful to live with the parallel lives for too long- side by side- the one that should be happening and you can still imagine in some other dimension- and this one- the sad one that feels like someone else’s life or like a film.
So, today I had this image in my mind of a person with each foot on a different little row boat as they drift in opposite directions. It looks like a comedy routine, but that’s, I think, a fair depiction. You can’t stay in the split position forever- at some point, you choose a boat and the two boats drift away from each other.
Audrey’s been talking about you a little bit more again…yesterday she “wrote” me an invitation on a little slip of paper and said that it was from appa inviting me someplace. I eagerly asked where, and she just replied, “Somewhere else…” Today she said it again and her response was different, “Trader Joe’s.” She also talks about my birthday party a lot- she’s imagining a party for me I think like her own…so she goes on and on about the cake and balloons we’ll have. I asked her yesterday who was going to buy the balloons for me and she replied, “Appa.”
I don’t know why I do it- I still keep imagining what it would be like if you came home right now…how Audrey would still remember you and how happy she would be. More than anything- even my own happiness- I would love to witness the look of joy and surprise on her face. I was always so excited the days you returned from a month-long tour- after the first European tour in 2009, I took Audrey outside to meet you…her diaper leaked and she peed all over me out of excitement when we saw you. I was excited too- did I let on Dan? Another time she was just waking from a nap and you’d come in the apartment quietly. I didn’t want her to be too caught off guard by you being home suddenly while she had slept so I went in to her room first by myself and played with her for a bit. You were so anxious to come in…and then I said, “Audrey…guess who’s here?” And she looked immediately inquisitive and excited. Oh that was wonderful when you walked in the room and we were all together again.
Today in the mail I received a third request from the nonprofit “helicopter rescue” telling me if I don’t pay $3000 they’ll take legal action. I just don’t understand this because the police authorized the “rescue” and they didn’t even find you. It makes me sick to my stomach and disgusts me that a nonprofit would send a new widow a bill like this…
It is very hard to mother and function when the weight of grief and all of its complications are weighing on you- how do you get the mail with your two year old, open this bill- a reminder of the worst day of your life and financial worry, and then tell your daughter she’s singing really beautifully? How do you keep all of this while mothering? Where do you put it away? Every day there seem to contain so many of these heavy things- like my life is just a very fragile thread and strung on it are all of these heavy beads…the bill, the tax receipts, concerns about your grave. Everything has this double connotation with the weight on it- even giving Audrey a bath where she “practices swimming” and tells me she loves summer because she loves swimming makes me sick. And then these are just the things related to your death- there are also all of the questions surrounding the future which approach me more boldly now- where will we live, what will I do for work? In short, what’s going to happen to us? Tomorrow is my last “free” counseling session, so it feels like everything’s slipping away…
This afternoon, I think because I received that bill and felt everything spinning out of control, I started to clean out Audrey’s closet which has been out of control for a long time now with giant Ziploc bags of her clothes from each different age: 0-3 months – the teeny tiny ones, 12-18 months- the bags are labeled with a black Sharpie. Well, I hadn’t thought I’d be strong enough to attempt this for a long time, but I started to put things in a box to give away. And maybe tomorrow I’ll sort through all of the bags and just keep my favorite clothes. I used to be someone who would declutter so easily, but things are different now. I thought we were having another child…I thought I’d have more time for “babies” and would be using these clothes again. I say goodbye to that child…and I say goodbye to you again. I fold up the tiny blue and pink striped hat with the pom pom from the hospital and think of you. I find the brown checkered pants you brought back on your last trip to Asia that you thought would fit Audrey but was actually size 4 months- I had put it away and told you we’d save it for the next child- and I really, truly thought we would. I even thought it was a sign. I put her pacifiers – a bag of different kinds I’d tried but she’d refused all of- into the giveaway box, and the bottles we barely used, and my breast pump. I remember how hard it was to wean Audrey, but I kept telling myself, I’ll get to do this one more time at least. It is hard to sort through these things. They are from a little more than two years ago- and a lifetime away…Audrey’s life – and now yours.
At dinner tonight, she was singing her favorite song, “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” but she’s been getting really creative changing songs around and making up her own. I actually think the last two verses of Mary Had a Little Lamb are very deep…”Why does the lamb love Mary so, the eager children cry?” “Well, Mary loves the lamb you know, the teacher did reply.” But this time Audrey sang it this way, “Why does the lamb love Appa God? Appa God? Appa God? Why does the lamb love Appa God?”
The feeling comes…not sharp anymore…but deep- like nausea and like a poisonous gas that’s making it’s way into my lungs. This is too much, I think. This is too much sadness…but this is my life. This is real. The tears stream down my face while she continues singing and I try to hope and believe that the Lamb does love you so Dan…and that you are safe somewhere
because of His